Freethought Today · October 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF tells Rubio to silence his bible tweets

FFRF has taken on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for regularly tweeting bible verses.

Rubio uses Twitter, the popular social media website on which he has nearly three million followers, to communicate with constituents and keep them informed about his official duties as "U.S. Senator for Florida," as the account biography describes him.

Rubio is not tweeting "an errant bible verse or two, but more than 60 bible verses in three months. That's enough verses to tweet the entire Book of Jude. Twice," writes FFRF's Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel, also a constitutional attorney.

One of Rubio's tweets, quoting Exodus 10:21, suggests that the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 was a sign from God. Darkness is the second to last plague the biblical god inflicts on Egypt, before sending the final plague to murder every firstborn male.

"We have no issue with people reading and discussing the bible," notes Seidel, "The road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover. But it is not for the government in our secular republic to promote one religious book over others or to promote religion over nonreligion."

In anticipation of Rubio claiming that this is his personal social media account, FFRF explains why that argument fails: "The private social media accounts of people who assume government office can become accounts that appear to speak for the government, unless these officers carefully distinguish their public and private roles. The @MarcoRubio account has not been scrupulous or thorough in this regard."

FFRF documents that @MarcoRubio is tied to Rubio's identity as a government actor, and has almost exclusively been used to keep constituents informed of "Marco Rubio the senator, not Marco Rubio the private citizen."

FFRF's letter lays out a compelling case, based on copious legal precedent, that government actors are not confined to making official statements only from one platform, and that Rubio's personal Twitter account would be perceived by readers as primarily a platform to update Rubio's senatorial duties.

The simplest solution "is to stop tweeting bible verses or any other religious message," FFRF suggests. Either that, or Rubio can remove all traces of his public office from the @MarcoRubio Twitter account.

Adding a little religious authority to appeal to the good senator, FFRF concludes by suggesting that Rubio might consider rereading Matthew 6:5-6, in which Jesus condemns public displays of piety.

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